21 November 2017

The Divine Improvisation

Wynton Marsalis


Wynton Marsalis

God’s will is dynamic! We see examples of the divine improvisation all the time if we keep our eyes open to the gentle whisper of the Lord.

In the middle of recent meeting at JobSeekers, someone’s cell phone went off. The incident reminded me of a sermon I once heard; the key illustration was about Wynton Marsalis, arguably the greatest jazz musician of his generation – and one of the finest classical musicians as well. Marsalis has won Grammy awards in both categories.

The story took place on a Tuesday evening in late August 2001 in Greenwich Village at a jazz club called the Village Vanguard. This excerpt is from Faith Today:

Marsalis began an unaccompanied solo of the heartrending 1930′s ballad, “I Don’t Stand a Ghost of a Chance with You.” Hajdu [a journalist covering the performance] records that the audience became rapt as Marsalis’s trumpet virtually wept in despair, almost gasping at times with the pain in the music.

Stretching the mood taut, Marsalis came to the final phrase, with each note coming slower and slower, with longer and longer pauses between each one: “I … don’t … stand … a … ghost … of … a … chance … ”

And then someone’s cell phone went off.

It began to chirp an absurd little tune. The audience broke up into titters, the man with the phone jumped up and fled into the hallway to take his call, and the spell was broken. “MAGIC – RUINED,” the journalist scratched into his notepad.

But then Marsalis played the cell phone melody note for note. He played it again, with different accents. He began to play with it, spinning out a rhapsody on the silly little tune, changing keys several times. The audience settled down, slowly realizing they were hearing something altogether extraordinary. Around and around Marsalis played for several minutes, weaving glory out of goofiness.

Finally, in a masterstroke, he wound his cadenza down seamlessly to the last two notes of his previous song: “… with … you.” The audience exploded with applause.

God was at work in that club. That same versatile, resourceful God is at work in your life and mine.

That same brilliantly adaptable God is at work throughout this sin-sick world, bringing beauty out of baseness, heroism out of holocaust, love out of loss – even salvation out of sacrifice. He calls us to believe, and then do the same.

In the sermon, Chuck Hodges (Senior Pastor at Athens First UMC) said God works for our good every day; His will is dynamic. Keith Moore (Senior Pastor at Dogwood Church) preaches the same thing; God’s dynamic will takes over when sin spoils His plan. In other words, we are subject to the consequences of our will and our decisions – as well as the will and decisions of others – and stuff happens. Like losing a job. Or coming in second on an interview. Or missing a mortgage payment. Or getting a divorce.

Let God do something amazing in your life. This adversity is an opportunity to experience what God can do – an opportunity to experience His grace. Submit to His will and trust him with all your heart. He can take whatever mess you are in right now and weave glory out of goofiness. He will divinely improvise to (re)create a joyful and abundant life for you. If there is never a burden, how will we discover what great things God can do?

Here are two versions of Proverbs 3:5-6:

1) Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. (NKJV)

2) Trust GOD from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track. (The Message)

See you Friday at JobSeekers, the place where we experience God’s divine improvisations!

Copyright © 2004-2017 / Dave O’Farrell / All Rights Reserved

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